Every day when I go to our mailbox, there's lots of mail from the colleges and universities that my son has applied to. This has been going on for the past 18 months, and has allowed me to observe how colleges market themselves to prospective customers.
It's also given me a fresh look at how marketing best practices work, from a customer's perspective. Here are five key strategies, and how they can help any business attract more customers:
They sell to multiple decision makers.
Who are the different decision makers involved in selecting your offering? My son is deciding which college he will ultimately attend, but my wife and I will have an enormous influence over the decision. Colleges know this, so they sell concurrently to each of the multiple decision makers. Some mailing will be to "The Parents of" and some mailings are to the student. The messages are also different, appealing to our different motives.
How well do you segment you messaging? What are their buying criteria? Have you devised specific messaging for each of these groups of decision makers, to appeal to their specific selection criteria?
They keep the faucet flowing.
I've noticed that many colleges are great with "drip marketing." They'll send us something every month, which has admittedly kept some higher on our list.
How regularly do your prospects hear from you? Do you market through infrequent blasts, or do you make sure that your name is in front of them at regular intervals, to remain top-of-mind?
They vary the content.
One month, a particular college gave us an inside perspective of student life on campus. The next month it was about the worldly achievements of their faculty. The following month it was about their graduates' success in finding good jobs within the year after graduation. In other words, they kept it fresh and interesting. And it wasn't all glossy brochures; we've received several editions of the college's newspapers.
Do you vary the content in your campaigns? If you're delivering a message to your prospects every 30 days, are you numbing their minds with the same content, or do you give them something new to think about? Is your content so engaging that it leaves the prospect curiously anticipating "what's next?" much the way you do with your favorite magazine subscription?
They personalize the message.
Do you appeal to the inner human in your prospect? One of the more effective types of content are the truly personal ones - those handwritten notes that come from current students; like the english major who writes for the student newspaper, encouraging my son to give the school high consideration. Note: my son applied as an English major, with a focus on creative writing.
They synchronize their marketing to our selection process.
Within the next 30 days, my son will make his final decision. And we've noticed that many of the schools are sending us mail not just once per month, but now once each week. They're aware that a decision is looming, and it's critical to stay at the top of our minds. One way synchronize your marketing with the customer's buying process is increasing the frequency of the mailings.
How well do you understand your customers' buying process? Do you know exactly how and when they make their final selections? Do you market with this in mind? Remember, timing is everything. What do you do, to be sure that you're "in the room" when the final decision is made?